JOHANNESBURG — The South African capital of Pretoria is not exactly considered a fashion hot spot, but Precious Moloi-Motsepe, chairwoman of African Fashion International, or AFI, organizers of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa, or MBFWA, believed that it was time for the city to shine.
“There are a lot of fashion-conscious people living in Pretoria,” she said, “and that’s why it made sense to hold MBFWA there. In fact, more designers should start opening stores in Pretoria. So far, we only have Malcolm Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit.”
The duo, who won this year’s Designers of the Year award presented at MBFW Africa, opened their Pretoria boutique earlier this year. Still, Pretoria was admittedly a schlep for many people, designers and the media included, who were mostly based in Johannesburg, and organizers of the various fashion shows were scrambling to arrange transport for guests to and from the Tshwane City Hall venue. Mozambican designer Taibo Bacar, last year’s Designer of the Year winner, was unfazed by the distance. “I like to think Maputo is just next door, so the 45-minute drive to Pretoria is a breeze for me.”
Apart from showing his solo collection, Bacar was also one of 14 fashion and accessories designers from all over Africa invited to take part in the Samsung AmazeAfrica showcase, a collaboration that paired established and emerging designers to create looks inspired by technology.
Pointing out Samsung’s growing relationship with fashion, Thabiet Allie, head of Content and Services for Samsung Electronics Africa, said the technology giant “now has the opportunity to create a conversation through fashion.”
The resulting conversation was certainly creative and dynamic. New York-based milliner Albertus Swanepoel was all set to work with Duro Olowu, “which would have been fantastic,” until the London-based designer apparently pulled out. Swanepoel was nevertheless pleased to work with South African designer Jacques van der Watt of Black Coffee. Katherine-Mary Pichulik, an up-and-coming accessories designer, was paired with Bacar. “Basically, we were given the challenge of creating an accessory or holder for the notebook. I’ve done a range of four different pieces, each one inspired by the cycad, a plant indigenous to Africa. So we looked at the texture, the color, the material, the line…and Taibo incorporated that into elegant dresses, while I worked on the production of accessories to go with that,” said Swanepoel.
Bacar described his clothes as “always simple, clean, classic, very elegant and very commercial. The cycad was my inspiration. I take the colors of the plant and the cut, that’s why I used green and made a lot of cuts and pleats in the design, like the plant.”
Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud, who is based in her native Ivory Coast and France, designs the men’s wear line LaurenceAirline. She was paired with Cape Town-based accessories label Missibaba, whose signature is hand-worked leather. Chauvin-Buthaud’s men’s wear, which she says does well in Copenhagen and Sweden, has been lauded for its crisp, clean lines, and clever use of tribal African prints as geometric detail.
“I am between Africa and Europe,” she said, “but my roots are always here. In terms of my design, I always do the connection between my African roots and something of the future, of France. Like I am a mix, I do a mix.”
For the AmazeAfrica showcase, the pair were assigned herpetology as inspiration, and “it was a very good match, turtles and snakes,” said Chloe Townsend of Missibaba, who sent down laptop sleeves in woven leather to complement the LaurenceAirline men’s wear. “It took ages to do, as it involved quite precise cutting and hand-scaling all the edges to get the effects we wanted.”
The MBFW Africa Fashion Awards winner for Emerging Designer of the Year, Tanzanian-born and South Africa-based Anisa Mpungwe of Loin Cloth and Ashes, teamed up with Doreen Mashika of Tanzania, whose designs are in store at Eileen Fisher and Anthropologie as part of a special East African project. “It was pretty interesting to work together,” Mpungwe recounted, “because the deadline was so timed that everyone was rushing to get stuff done. It was also interesting because our inspiration was bees, wasps and ants. I am mostly an African prints designer, so working with different kinds of prints was a whole other world I discovered, like silks with a kind of sheen and texture to resemble a bee’s wings, for instance.”
Other designers participating in the showcase, part of Samsung’s global Accelerating Discoveries and Possibilities initiative, included Adèle Dejak and Rift Valley Leather of Kenya, Projecto Mental of Angola, 1982 by Nane Brenu of Ghana and Italy, as well as Marianne Fassler and Quamta of South Africa.
Alek Wek made a special appearance as one of the judges at the awards ceremony. Other awardees were Gavin Rajah for SA Tourism Designer of the Year, Anita Quansah for Accessories Designer of the Year, Grace Boi for Model of the Year, Zandile Blay for Fashion Communicator of the Year, and Jan Malan for Outstanding Contribution to African Fashion.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)